Felton, Delaware – The Delaware State Police have officially identified the victim of the accident that occurred on Wednesday morning as 44-year-old Justin Zacheis, a resident of Woodside.
The accident transpired just after 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the intersection of Burnite Mill Road and Sandtown Road near Felton, Delaware.
Preliminary reports reveal the tractor-trailer driver was executing a turn from Sandtown Road onto Burnite Mill Road when the trailer entered the lane of Zacheis, causing his vehicle to become lodged underneath it.
Following the collision, Zacheis’s Ford pickup truck and the tractor-trailer came to rest in a soybean field.
Zacheis lost his life at the scene of the collision.
Deadly Wide Turn That Caused Underride Accident Demands a Thorough Investigation
Driving a truck is a difficult job. It takes a well-trained driver to maneuver these massive machines effectively. One of the most challenging parts of driving a truck is safely turning right or left. Unfortunately, some truck drivers do not turn with safety in mind, and accidents happen.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) reports that in 2021, 10.3 percent of large truck crashes were sideswipe accidents. These accidents happen when a truck driver fails to use their windows and mirrors to ensure there is no vehicle in the additional lane it must occupy, fails to use turn signals, or fails to turn at the appropriate radius and manage lane space properly, resulting in the truck taking the space of two lanes (when drivers are in a position where they can’t avoid taking up two lanes, they must proceed with caution, making sure no passenger cars are nearby). Negligent errors can cause serious injuries or death. When negligent actions alter or take an innocent motorist’s life, all parties liable must be held accountable.
From what has been shared in the fatal accident involving Mr. Zacheis, the tractor-trailer driver entered the lane Mr. Zacheis was driving in. According to details released, it seems Mr. Zacheis was not at fault, and the truck driver caused this accident. This is unacceptable behavior, and the trucker must be held accountable for the innocent passing of a young man.
Moreover, a further investigation will reveal if the trucking company is also partially to blame for this crash. It’s crucial for the driving public to share the roads with trained, safe drivers. Trucking companies should have drivers with adequate driving experience and qualifications. Companies are also responsible for training their drivers on safe driving practices. When trucking companies put untrained drivers on the roadway, they may also be held accountable for any harm their negligent actions cause motorists.
What’s also troubling is that reports indicate Mr. Zacheis’s Ford pickup truck was lodged under the trailer. This indicates this was an underride crash. Underride accidents are deadly because they prevent the vehicle’s designed occupant protection systems from activating (if the front of the car goes under, seatbelts do not tighten, airbags do not deploy, etc.), leaving the motorists wholly unprotected from the collision. Many times, these types of accidents leave the smaller vehicle crushed underneath the trailer, contributing to the cause of the injury or death.
When a semi-truck has inadequate safety bars (or no safety bars) in place, and a car can slide underneath the body of the truck from either the truck’s rear or side, preventing protection systems from activating or crushing the car’s roof, this accident also now falls under a manufacturing defect.
Keep in mind the law is concerned with the cause of the accident and the cause of the injury or death. Smaller cars and trucks are no match for large trucks that stand high. In underride accidents, the point of impact happens at the windshield or the hood of the smaller vehicle.
Manufacturing defect laws ensure that when a vehicle is defective, injury or death may be caused by the vehicle, not the accident. Manufacturers of trailers are responsible for protecting the drivers and passengers from injury or death as much as possible. When companies fail to install underride guards on their trucks, they should be held accountable for injuries or deaths their decision caused.
Trained professionals will need to conduct a thorough investigation to uncover everything that caused a loss of life in this accident. Mr. Zacheis’ family deserves answers for all actions that contributed to the death of their loved one.
The Ammons Law Firm represents clients nationwide in catastrophic injury and wrongful death litigation, with extensive experience in complex auto/tire defect and commercial vehicle cases.
Disclaimer: This post is not legal advice. Information contained in this blog was compiled from third-party sources or is the opinion of the author. Please inform us immediately if false or misleading information is contained in this post.